‘Keep kids from dropping out’

04/11/2010 - LOCAL governments need to focus beyond building new classrooms or hiring more teachers, although these are among the education system’s familiar problems, an official said.

Department of Education 7 Director Recaredo Borgonia said local leaders are also needed in the effort to keep grade and high school students in school, instead of dropping out.

Studies by DepEd show only 65 of 100 Grade 1 pupils finish Grade 6. And they leave early. At least 60 percent of elementary school drop-outs begin to stop attending school from Grades 1 to 3.

Borgonia said local government leaders need to study how they can help increase the participation and graduation rates.

“The important thing really is how to let all students complete basic education,” said Borgonia.

In random interviews, 13 candidates for executive office in the Province and the Metro Cebu cities pledged everything from computers and free college education, to housing for public school teachers and an end to contributions collected in public schools.

Province

While Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and former Cebu City councilor Hilario Davide III are on different sides, they agree education should be an important aspect in governance.

Davide said he wants to focus on improving the quality of teachers in schools.

In various sorties, Davide said, he learned that teachers pay for their own skills training so that not all can avail themselves of it. The Provincial Government, he said, should shoulder this.

Davide also said there are many complaints about the lack of classrooms and laboratories in the towns’ schools.

The Garcia administration has so far built 640 classrooms and distributed 19,276 chairs, 1,005 computers and P86 million worth of school supplies.

The Department of Education honored Garcia late last year for her efforts in improving the Province’s educational system.

Both Davide and Garcia also agreed private companies need to be tapped for aid, as part of their corporate social responsibility.

Davide said companies could adopt schools, while Garcia has tapped cement companies to provide the cement in building classrooms.

Cebu City

Cebu City mayoral candidates want to focus their education programs on training teachers in English proficiency and computer literacy, and ensure free college education for everyone.

Former mayor Alvin Garcia lamented that public school teachers lack the required skills in communicating in English and in information communications technology (ICT), which he said should be improved first if the City wants to improve the quality of education.

“We should focus on trainor’s training…so they can be better equipped in teaching our students to make them qualify for jobs in call centers and related industries,” Garcia said.

If elected mayor, he also wants to continue the school building program he started in his first term as mayor, where City Hall put up 23 school buildings with 220 classrooms, without relying on National Government funding.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama, for his part, wants to continue the City’s education programs if elected, including the night high schools, alternative learning system and the P10,000 financial assistance to all public high school graduates.

To motivate teachers in ensuring a high quality of education, Rama said he wants to work on a housing project for public school teachers so they can have a “decent” house within the city where they teach.

Georgia Osmeña and her cousin former senator John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña, both mayoral aspirants, agreed on the need to give teachers training workshops.

Both also want to provide free college education and Internet access to all public school students.
For long-term education programs, Georgia said she wants to put up a city college, and scholarship grants for the students for her short-term programs.

“I am considering wi-fi zones so students can access the Internet. I would like to see a world-class public library in Cebu City. I would also encourage businessmen to provide affordable boarding houses for the students,” she said.

It is not enough that the City Government is providing P10,000 in college assistance fund to the public high school graduates who will enroll in selected schools, Sonny said.

He will institutionalize the scholarship through a voucher system to include more schools, and prioritize specialized courses that few college students enroll in.

“The refinement here is that our free college education program will be mainly for engineering courses, medical sciences, biotechnology and similar courses. We will provide a lesser amount for those taking commerce and education or those where there is an oversupply of professionals,” said Sonny.

If elected, he said he wants to provide all public schools free Internet access by setting up free Internet cafes, to be used only for educational purposes.

Mandaue City

Mayoral candidates in Mandaue City said they will work for affordable and quality education, though both of them also admitted the need for more school buildings.

Mayor Jonas Cortes said he wants to maximize the use of computers in schools. His challenger, Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, called for “academic enhancement programs” and vowed to end all public school contributions that burden parents.

But both agreed Mandaue’s 40,000 pupils need additional school buildings and classrooms.

Cortes said he will tap the private sector and non-government organizations to help finance school-building projects, with only 30 percent coming from the City’s

Special Education Fund.

Ruiz said she will request private companies to support an adopt-a-school program.

As for scholarships, Cortes said he plans to add to the present 30 City-sponsored students, for whom the City spends P17,000 each per semester.

Ruiz said that if elected mayor, she will continue her scholarship program, having supported at least 1,404 scholars with their tuition during her term as congresswoman.

Mandaue City has 56 elementary schools, 13 high schools and six night high schools.

Talisay City

Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez said if he is reelected, he will help the Talisay City College raise its caliber of education, by providing experts and professors as teaching staff.

He also promised to arrange for short courses for skills training, in areas such as welding, hotel and restaurant services, professional butchering, and the culinary arts.

But there’s also a need for more classrooms, school facilities and teachers, said Liberal Party mayoral candidate Raul Bacaltos.

If elected, Bacaltos vowed to make the construction of new school buildings and hiring of additional teachers among his priorities. He hopes to limit the class size to 40 students for every classroom.

“My point here is to give the children quality education. We cannot achieve that if they are cramped in one classroom with no available teachers,” said Bacaltos, a lawyer and former Provincial Board member.

Bacaltos said he will also check the Special Education Fund so teachers will get additional cash incentives every month, if there’s enough to go around.

“If there is an available fund, then why not give it to the teachers as their monthly allowance from the City? They really deserve it,” he said.

While some local candidates still have to fulfill their promise, reelectionist Mayor Val Chiong of the City of Naga said he already built 28 additional classrooms to cope with the increasing number of pupils this year.

Chiong said he initiated the project, which is chargeable against local funds, without waiting for the assistance of the education department.

He expects the new classrooms to be completed and ready for occupancy before the start of the new school year in June. Construction started last month. (sunstar)

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